What time are you hoping for?
I’ve been asked this question so many times in the past couple of weeks I thought I had better finally answer.
"What time are you hoping for?" I get it, I really do. Running a marathon for many is about running a time. Sub 5, sub 4 a Boston qualifier. Heck even the elites are desperate to crack the elusive 2hr barrier.
Me? What time would I like to run it in? If I pledge a time and don’t hit it what will you think? Chances are you won’t even remember.
The thing I love about running is that everyone is on their own journey but we’re all running the same race. I’ll toe the start line in the London Marathon in the same race as Mo Farrah. He might finish top 10, I’ll be somewhere in the 10,000s. Even though I’ll be around 2 hours slower than the likes of Kipchoge and Lily Partridge, my time may well be a PB.
How fast am I really?
But I know if you’re reading this you want more. You want me to say that I’m going for a PB or for a Boston Qualifying time. If you’re interested in my times I ran my first ever marathon in Paris in sub-4hr. I desperately wanted to finish in 3 hours "something". I was fixated on it and trained extremely hard. Do you want to know a secret? I walked in that marathon. Yep. I saw my friends at around the 21M mark and I was elated. A couple of minutes after I was crushed. I felt overwhelmed about the enormity of actually being in a marathon. I had been hanging on, keeping running until I saw them. I hadn’t even stopped to pick up any water. I did some mental arithmetic worked out I had 30 seconds to spare and just took a moment to get my head together. I crossed the finish line comfortably in 3:54.
My second marathon was last year, 4 years after my first. Guess what?! I walked then too. Again, I felt enormous overwhelm this time just after Tower Bridge. Nothing can prepare you for the London Marathon crowds. I’d watched and cheered for years but what you don’t realise as a spectator is that when you’re running you’re in a tunnel of noise the whole way around. By the time I hit the half way mark just after Tower Bridge I was exhausted. Too many high fives and too much nervous energy. I moved to the inside away from the crowd and walked. I just needed a moment of relative peace and a second to get my head around the intensity!
By the time I had seen my family at 18M I knew sub-4 was out and I stopped looking down and checking my Garmin every 15 seconds. From that point on I really started to enjoy the race. The atmosphere from 20M to the end carries you home and at times takes your breath away. If you’re running this weekend do not worry about anything you will get round, you will make it to the finish line, the crowds will carry you home. I had one of the best moments of my life running down Embankment as the theme from Chariots of Fire came on. I saw my family again up on Waterloo Bridge where I had watched and waved and cheered in previous years.
If you’re running this weekend do not worry about anything you will get round, you will make it to the finish line, the crowds will carry you home.
I finished London last year in 4:17 on the nose. I had missed my finish time considerably but something exciting was happening. As I was running past The Palace I could hear the commentators saying that the young Royals had come out to present medals. All we had to do was guess which finishers tunnel they were in Left, Middle or Right. I guessed Left and was correct. I stumbled into a line to get my medal. I’d just run 26.2 in one of the greatest cities in the world. Now I was meeting the royal family!! As I reached the front of the queue I had a sudden realisation what was about to happen and how hot and sticky I was. Little did I know at the time the whole thing was being live streamed across the world. You can see me wiping my hands on my leggings before I shake hands. I said hello, we exchanged a few words, which I think I’ll remember forever, then I was awarded my medal by Kate Middleton.
The funny thing is, although the first half of the race was good, it dramatically improved as soon as I stopped running for a time. I’ve run a sub-4hr marathon that box is ticked. Now I have a new goal.
What time am I aiming for on Sunday?
What is my aim this year? Well sub 4 would be fab but it is unlikely. Life happens. I doubt there is a single non-professional whose training has gone completely to plan. Not walking during the race at all would be a new achievement but I’m not sure that will happen either.
I’ve thought long and hard about my time goal. What time will make my friends and family proud? What time will I be proud of? And I realised that what I really want is to have the time of my life. I want to run that course and make memories. One day I will not be able to do this. I know that probably sounds super cheesy but given I know I’m not going to win the race and that whether I finish in 3 something or 4 something there are no consequences, enjoying the race is therefore my main priority. Let me know if you’re running and/or if you have any last minute advice. It’s certainly going to be a day I’ll never forget! If you'd like to track me I'm bib number 55386.
My plan on Sunday is to give it my all, to run strong, to take in every moment and above all else to have fun! I'm going to make sure I have the time of my life. It won't be easy and I am pretty sure that there will be times when I want to stop, for it all to be over and in those moments I know I need to dig deep and remember my mantra. I can and I am. I can do this.
So the answer to your question, "what time are you hoping for?"
The time of my life!
P.S. Thank you New Balance for inviting me to join your team. I am incredibly grateful and proud to wear the kit!